Something I’ve found since I was a small girl is that it seems common practice to comment on the bodies of girls and women. When I was little I still remember the first girl at primary school who called me a ‘fat pig’ her name was Ashleigh we were 8 I threw out the sandwich I was eating and refused to eat lunch at school again. I remember the boys at high school telling me that my skirt was too long and I was being a slut for not showing them my legs. The next year I returned with a skirt so short that I constantly got in trouble for it. When I was starving myself because my biggest fear was getting fat, people told me “you’re looking really good!” when I started gaining weight because I no longer hated myself I would run into people who I hadn’t seen in a while they would say, “wow you got fat, what happened?”. As much as the 25 year old me would like to say, that was their problem and it didn’t effect my self esteem you know it did. The truth about it is that other people’s comments and judgments on your body do have an effect on how you see yourself. This is especially true for young people but is still true for people of all ages. Not to mention the constant bombardment of ‘perfect’ bodies in the media, products to make you skinnier, prettier, younger and the message that you, as you are is not enough. When the reality is that is what those companies want you to feel so they can sell sell sell you these products and make money off you.
It is safe to say that in having a daughter I detest anyone who mentions her weight, size or makes a point of judging her body. She was barely 8 months old when a strange lady at Kmart said to me “wow what chubby thighs she has” to which I replied, “wow so do you” she gave me the most shocked look like how dear I say that and make a judgement about her body. But you see, though she may only be a baby she is a person. A real human being who has a personality, thoughts and feelings.
It was only the other week that I was walking with my daughter through town on our walk which is around 2km long. When I asked her if she would like some lunch, when she replied that she wanted a sandwich and a sausage roll, a lady who was walking in front of us turned around and said to her “You’ll get fat!” I was shocked and for once speechless to think that someone thought this was ok to say to a stranger let alone a 4 year old girl was beyond me. For the record half a sandwich and 3 bites of a sausage roll aren’t going to make anyone fat. I just gave that women the death stare of all death stares and went and got my daughter her sandwich and sausage roll which we ate at the park on our way to the fruit and veg shop.
For the record my daughter is not overweight, she eats a very balanced healthy diet and yes sometimes every now and again we eat out. She is very a active kid and spends most of her day outside playing. So to people to say “I only said it because I’m concerned about her health” is bullshit, and the person who is the most concerned about my daughter’s health is me and I make conscious decisions every day as to how nurture her physical, psychological and mental health. Her Haiora as we like to think about.
Why is it that we teach our kids that being fat is the ultimate failure, that it is ok for someone to criticize their body and when someone does that it is their fault. No my darling it isn’t your fault. Your body is not a topic of discussion for others to judge, critic and praise. It is not you that is the problem my darling it is them.
Please don’t comment on my daughter’s body, comment on her intelligence, creativity, kindness, manners, skills, passion or conversation. She is so much more than her body.